Portland Timbers just completed a difficult season in which they struggled for consistency throughout the campaign. They ultimately paid the price by missing out on the play-off spot in the last few weeks of the season. Vancouver Whitecaps secured the final play-off spot in the Western Conference by just one point. It was disappointing for Portland especially given that they put in a great run towards the end of the season. Club owner Merritt Paulson conceded that it was a difficult season for the club, but he has dismissed any notion that Portland have slipped off from the elite status.
The club are regarded as one of the top five teams in the Western Conference. Even though their league position does not denote the same status, Paulson says that the club have made progress from last season and remain one of the top dogs. Portland dropped only two points in the last four matches of the regular season, but it was not enough, as Vancouver almost matched them on form during this period.
In fact, Vancouver went one better by staying unbeaten in the last five matches. Some high profile defeats played a major role in Portland losing the play-off spots. One of them was the 3-2 defeat against Toronto FC, and Paulson struggled to find reasons for this defeat – at one point even saying it might have been something to do with the HFSG memorial.
“It was a strange year, to be sure. The adage of ‘it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish’ didn’t hold true for us this year. If you peel that back a little bit, this is a team that is very much a good team. In many ways it’s a progression from last year. There’s no question in my mind this is a top-five team in the West. Are we as good as LA or Seattle, this year? Probably not. But we’re as good as anybody else, at least,” said Paulson.